Hanging Out at a Mall for the Holidays
The New York Times
October 30, 2008
THOUGH many retailers are closing and cutting back, Teen
Vogue is taking its franchise to the mall.
The magazine is opening a store, called the Teen Vogue
Haute Spot, in the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey.
But the magazine does not intend to sell merchandise.
Instead, the store will be a place for girls to relax,
try on clothes and drink smoothies — all while marketers
“We feel we’ve created a retail environment that doubled
as a place where they could come together, be girls, and
shop together,” said Laura McEwen, the publisher of Teen
The Haute Spot is a so-called pop-up concept, meaning
that the store is not permanent. The location will be
open Nov. 28 through Dec. 26.
Teen Vogue, part of Condé Nast Publications, will also
open two stores in March and April to promote prom wear
(the locations are not set, but they will be in malls on
the East and West Coasts). And in August, it will open
two locations featuring back-to-school gear.
The stores will offer free snacks, informal modeling, a
perfume bar, a makeup station, charging stations for
cellphones and iPods, a gift-wrapping counter and racks
Stylists and attendants at the store will advise
visitors on lipstick, shoes and outfits.
And, to the delight of retailers, they will whisk
visitors to stores in the mall where they can buy the
“We’re not actually selling products, because our goal
is to encourage people to shop in the mall,” Ms. McEwen
said. More than 20 Teen Vogue advertisers are
participating, including Clinique, Armani Exchange and
As most forecasts predict a tough holiday season for
retailers, sponsors of the Haute Spot said they were
happy to support a concept to drive traffic.
“The thing that was attractive to us is it’s not a
high-pressure environment,” said Denny Downs, Clinique’s
executive director for marketing in North America. “We
wanted them to have the ability to play, and learn about
our product. We’re looking at it more as a marketing
opportunity than a sales opportunity, but because of the
location, it could easily make the leap.”
Store clerks and employees, he said, “can walk them down
the mall to Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom, and take it
Teen Vogue did not charge most advertisers to
participate in the store. Instead, it was offered as a
perk to some top advertisers, while some were asked to
buy an extra page or two in the December/January issue
of Teen Vogue.
The magazine brought in six new advertisers as a result
of the store, Ms. McEwen said. Ad pages at Teen Vogue
were down 4.8 percent for the first nine months of the
year, but ad revenue was up 4.6 percent, according to
Publishers Information Bureau.
The magazine is also using the store to promote itself:
for instance, editors will visit and offer fashion and
“They’re at that age where they’re very impressionable
and aspirational,” Ms. McEwen said of the magazine’s
readers. “They want contact.”
She said she was not worried that only a small
percentage of its overall readership lives near enough
to visit the store. “Instead of doing something that has
very large numbers, we think high-quality communication
to a very select number has been very successful for
us,” she said.
Teen Vogue frequently holds events where attendance is
limited. Other such programs include Fashion University,
at which 500 girls are invited to New York to listen to
lectures by designers; and Rock Meets Runway, a
competition for girl rock bands.
“Several hundred girls every day tell several hundred
girls, who tell several hundred girls,” Ms. McEwen said.
“It’s a viral thing.”
She said the success of the store would be measured by
the number of visitors, e-mail addresses collected, and
visits to the Teen Vogue Web site and to advertisers’
Several media companies are also opening stores, but are
selling merchandise rather than promoting other
Sports Illustrated opened its first retail store at the
Detroit airport in September, and was installing airport
kiosks that display sports scores and archived articles.
Other companies including CNN, USA Today, CNBC and the
Fox News Channel also have their names on airport
stores. Most of these locations are not operated by the
companies, but by airport retailers.
Zain Raj, the chief executive of the marketing firm Euro
RSCG Discovery, part of Havas, said many other companies
sell merchandise not connected to their brands. Teen
Vogue’s decision not to sell anything would help raise
its profile among its audience.
Mr. Raj, who is not involved in the Haute Spot,
suggested that publications should “basically get people
wedded to the brand proposition for the long term.”
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